11 March 2014

06/03/2014 Lunch at the Vaults

The weather is dry and it is only a thirty-minute walk from home-base to Leith, so no excuse. A strange walk it is, going from the posh streets of Edinburgh, through gradually more and more run-down areas, diving deep through the layers of social classes, before reaching the Scottish Government district, an island of great wealth in a distressed, post-industrial town. Similar to Liverpool in many ways, what with the city centre being rehabilitated and gentrified, while the surrounding parts, some of them beyond repair, are still on the waiting list.

Once at the Vaults, the atmosphere is, as usual, laid back and cosy, posh and comforting.
The oldest building in town.
With a cellar in use since the 16th Century.

64.53 12yo 2001 Retro and Kitsch (57.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Bourbon Barrel, 232b): missed out on this one in London, the other day. Now is the time to catch up. Nose: flowers essence (daffodils spring to mind, but it could just as well be forsythia), white pepper and a bit of mustard -- quite strong on the nostrils, in fact. Mouth: hot grape juice, with more ground white pepper straight off the mill, hot English mustard. Once the alcohol wanes out, bakery sweetness settles in, ├ęclair territory. Finish: very milky chocolate, now, invading and smooth, with a sprinkle of wine vinegar. This is lovely! 8/10

Lovely ceiling
36.71 22yo 1991 Lemonade in a garden centre (52.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Bourbon Hogshead, 261b): nose: sexy! Coconut, vanilla and other traditional wood influences. Behind that, blonde tobacco and burning hay. Some herbs (tarragon, sage) to a near-metallic point. Body butter, crushed nuts (aouch!), toasted oat and caramel (J). Mouth: milky and hot, fiery even, red chilli in a coconut-milk curry. This one is hugely influenced by the wood, but it works. Finish: a ride through spicy, nutty butter, milk chocolate paste, bay leaf and oily salad. Mint, maybe? Swoosh! 8/10

80.1 11yo 1978/1990 (56.8%, SMWS Society Cask): an old glory that was offered at a tasting recently; the members' room has the leftovers -- oh! not much of it, mind. Too good an opportunity to pass. Nose: seems very neutral at first nosing. At second nosing, it seems to contain a lot of grape seeds. Lemon tart, lemon curd, even Victoria sponge cake, but mostly the bitterness of grape seeds. Rather unusual. With water, pretty much the same. Mouth: green-chilli-infused milk. It takes a bit of time to feel the chilli (hence green, the well-known time-bomb chilli), but once it is there, it is quite damaging. With water, the mouth remains fiery. Finish: white grapes, milk chocolate and white spirit. This has potential, but it is too strong, neat. The bitterness is quite intense. With water, more milk chocolate, yet again, it remains wild. This one is more interesting than good and less good than the far more recent 80.6, but an interesting dram it certainly is! From an era when SMWS was bottling fierce stuff young, and thought turning blind was preferable to adding water (they still do, I suppose). 6/10

The rather cosy bar
20.1 9yo 1976/1985 (64.5%, SMWS Society Cask): we missed out on an Inverleven last night, much to my disappointment. This time, we will not let it slip! Nose: my nasal hair is dissolving again (64.5%, w00t!) Lots of solvents, with also peach stones, leather saddles, faint mocha, liquorice, ... Yes, this is an old man's dram -- a bit of a surprise, for a Lowlander. With water: a lot more toasted oak, now. It then evolves to become a grape sorbet, sprinkled with Nesquik powder and crushed mint leaves. Very nice. Mouth: very strong again, yet it seems more balanced than the previous dram, strangely enough. It is still quite fierce, however. Milky, varnishy, liquorice-y. With water: the varnish disappears almost completely to make room for fruit (grapes and their seeds). Finish: grape-seed-infused alcohol vinegar. Some burnt caramel too. It is tongue-stripping, unfortunately. Probably needs water. Butterscotch and herbs try and make an appearance, but are pretty much muted by the high ABV. With water: much more pleasant, with milk chocolate, melted in a milk coffee. Not extraordinarily complex, but a nice dram. 6/10

"I can have euh,
23 bottles?"
Several obnoxious Frogs walk in, spending time on the phone inside the venue (not allowed) and talking loudly ('Excuse me, euh, I can smoke here?') They want to buy 24 bottles of 36.71, much to the annoyance of the bar staff. I cannot express how happy I am that my French friends are not like that.

6.2 12yo 1974/1987 (62%, SMWS Society Cask): another old glory, this. Not sure how it ended up here, but delighted, as I have never seen a Macduff from the SMWS before, and it is a rare-ish distillery to begin with. Nose: a leather workshop, shoe polish on all kinds of leather belts and boots. Stewed prunes too, as well as a platter of seafood. Mouth: quite tame at first (remember that 64.5% Inverleven!), then black pepper (lots of it) and game casserole, hot and saucy. With water: orange comes out more assertively. Finish: oomph! Hot and drying, sticky like a napalm bomb (not that I ever tasted one). OXO broth, Marmite, biltong (Pistorius, if you're reading us...) Big and meaty, with lots of pepper. A good example of strong sherry maturation. The recent Cadenhead bottling was probably more balanced, but this is good too. 7/10

We have a soup of the day (tomato) and sandwiches (chicken and mayo for JS, brie and tom salad for me).

No comments:

Post a Comment